May 11, 2015, Mazatlan, Mexico — A birder named Rene Valdes picked me up on the Mazatlan waterfront this morning and we headed to an 800-hectare ranch in the thorn forest outside town. The ranch is managed by a man named Enrique who, perhaps unlike most ranch owners in this area, is interested in environmental conservation. 

When Rene and I arrived, Enrique was waiting with a couple of photo albums. He runs a series of remote camera traps on the ranch and wanted to show off his pictures of jaguars, pumas, jaguarundis, ocelots, bobcats, and margays. Enrique grows some corn and has a couple of cows, but for the most part leaves the land for its wildlife. While Rene and I went birding, he shucked a pile of dried corn cobs and left them out for birds and animals to eat. I found this sort of inspiring: This guy is quietly doing what he can, in his own way, to help preserve a local landscape.

Rene and I spent the rest of the day bouncing around the outskirts of Mazatlan. We visited an estuary filled with pelicans and shorebirds, and ended up in old town where several Red-billed Tropicbirds circled a guano-plastered rock adorned with boobies (of the Brown and Blue-footed varieties). At 4:30 p.m., Rene admitted that we’d already seen every bird in Mazatlan on my target list, and we called it a day. 

With a rare free evening, I went for a long run on the beach. I ran the entire Mazatlan waterfront, past a statue of a naked guy and a mermaid, a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, a homeless man peeing on a wall, several couples making out, a break-dancing group, a Heermann’s Gull, a wrecked building for sale for a million dollars, and a girl wearing a shirt that said “You could be my luck.” As I ran, my thoughts drifted like one of the fishing boats bobbing offshore. Sunset burned up the sky, flared out, and darkened into a smoky-black night.

New birds today: 16

Year list: 2479

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